Alabama, Florida State opener un­prece­dented

Michi­gan, Florida another key match

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY RALPH D. RUSSO AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The re­sult of the Alaba­maFlorida State could be a topic of con­ver­sa­tion all season, es­pe­cially among the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off se­lec­tion com­mit­tee.

The top-ranked Crim­son Tide and No. 3 Semi­noles face off in an un­prece­dented opener Satur­day in At­lanta’s shiny new sta­dium. The No. 1 team has never be­fore started the season against such a high-ranked team.

The win­ner gets an early boost, and the loser could come away bet­ter off for the ef­fort, too.

OK, we are def­i­nitely get­ting way ahead of our­selves in Week 1. Maybe Tide-’Noles will turn out to be this season’s Texas-Notre Dame. That game that seemed so mean­ing­ful last La­bor Day week­end, but by the end of the season … not so much.

It is highly un­likely that’s the case this time. Alabama, Florida State or both could miss the play­off, but the chances are ex­cel­lent they will con­tend and the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee will be try­ing to weigh this Week-one data point. The ram­i­fi­ca­tions could trickle down to how other top teams in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence and At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence are judged, too.

The same could be said of a num­ber of early-season non­con­fer­ence matchups in­volv­ing ranked teams: No. 11 Michi­gan vs. No. 17 Florida on Satur­day in Ar­ling­ton, Texas; No. 7 Ok­la­homa at No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Clem­son at No. 12 Auburn on Sept. 9.

When the play­off field is re­vealed on Dec. 3, re­sults of the first few weeks of the season could still be echo­ing through the se­lec­tions.

The picks:

To­day

No. 2 Ohio State (mi­nus 20½)

at In­di­ana: Big Ten game on a Thurs­day night in Au­gust. How times have changed. … OHIO STATE 28-13. Tulsa (plus 18) at No. 10 Ok­la­homa State: Golden Hur­ri­cane gets a chance for state­ment. Cow­boys have won five straight meet­ings … OK­LA­HOMA STATE 45-21.

Fri­day

No. 8 Wash­ing­ton (mi­nus 27)

at Rut­gers: Re­turn match of a home-and-home deal that looked like a com­pet­i­tive matchup when it was signed. Now? … WASH­ING­TON 42-10. Utah State (plus 27) at No. 9

Wis­con­sin: Ag­gies were a plucky non-Power Five team not long ago … WIS­CON­SIN 48-14.

Mar­quee matchups

No. 1 Alabama (mi­nus 7) vs. No. 3 Florida State at At­lanta: Tide has opened with a vic­tory at a neu­tral site against a Power Five op­po­nent each of the last five sea­sons. Av­er­age score: 39-14. But the Semi­noles are the best op­po­nent yet … ALABAMA 28-17.

No. 11 Michi­gan (mi­nus 3½) vs. No. 17 Florida at Ar­ling­ton, Texas: Two teams with high ceil­ings and loads of un­cer­tainty. SEC and Big Ten fans will be ready to pounce on con­fer­ence brag­ging rights, too … FLORIDA 24-21.

Up­set alert?

No. 13 LSU (mi­nus 16) vs.

BYU at New Or­leans: Game was moved from Hous­ton to the Tigers’ back­yard be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey … LSU 24-13. Ap­palachian State (plus 14½)

at No. 15 Ge­or­gia: Moun­taineers gave Ten­nessee a scare on open­ing week­end last year … GE­OR­GIA 27-14.

Mary­land (plus 18½) at No. 23 Texas: Seems as if Texas fans have been wait­ing for the Tom Herman era to be­gin since 2015 … TEXAS 31-14.

Mon­tana State (no line) at No. 24 Wash­ing­ton State: Cougars have lost to an FCS team to start the last two sea­sons. Couldn’t hap­pen again, could it? … WASH­ING­TON STATE 40-17.

New coaches

West­ern Michi­gan (plus 26½) at No. 4 USC: For­mer WMU star

Tim Lester takes over for P.J. Fleck and gets USC on a ninegame win­ning streak … USC 52-17, BEST BET. No. 16 Louisville (mi­nus 24½)

vs. Pur­due at In­di­anapo­lis: Jeff Brohm’s first game at Pur­due is against Heis­man win­ner La­mar Jack­son. And the sta­tus of Boil­er­mak­ers QB David Blough (shoul­der) is un­set­tled. … LOUISVILLE 48-31.

Mis­matches

Kent State (plus 40½) at No. 5 Clem­son: CLEM­SON 56-10.

Akron (plus 30½) No. 6 Penn State: PENN STATE 50-14.

UTEP (plus 43) at No. 7 Ok­la­homa: OK­LA­HOMA 58-10.

Ge­or­gia South­ern (plus 34) at No. 12 Auburn: AUBURN 52-14.

No NFL Sun­day

No. 21 Vir­ginia Tech (mi­nus 4) vs. No. 22 West Vir­ginia at Lan­dover, Md.: Long­time ri­vals and for­mer Big East foes sep­a­rated by 250 miles have not met since 2005 … VIR­GINIA TECH 24-21.

Mon­day Night

No. 25 Ten­nessee (mi­nus 3)

at Ge­or­gia Tech: Yel­low Jack­ets beat three SEC teams last season and have won five of their last six against the con­fer­ence go­ing back to 2014 … TEN­NESSEE 24-17.

Oth­ers

Colorado (mi­nus 5) vs. Colorado State in Den­ver, Fri­day: Rams al­ready tuned up for Mile High Show­down by ham­mer­ing Pac-12’s Ore­gon State … COLORADO 31-24. Wy­oming (plus 11½) at Iowa: Cow­boys QB Josh Allen gets early chance to val­i­date some of the off­sea­son hype against a Big Ten team … IOWA 28-20. Texas A&M (plus 3½) at UCLA, Sun­day: Los­ing coach be­comes first of the season to get heat turned up on al­ready hot seat … TEXAS A&M 28-23, UP­SET SPE­CIAL

VASHA HUNT/ALABAMA MEDA GROUP VIA AP

Alabama of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Brian Daboll works with quar­ter­back Jalen Hurts. The top-ranked Tide take on No. 3 Florida State in At­lanta on Satur­day night in col­lege foot­ball’s mar­quee matchup.

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